Car Corner
My Next Car - Part II

October 1, 2015
By Scott Lewis

Last month I dropped the bomb that I am no longer looking for a car to practice photography. I told you about a few different options I was considering. Much of this was based on how much equity I get out of the house my ex-wife and I are selling. Unfortunately... my share of the equity is a fair bit lower than I expected, and it seems to be dwindling more and more every day. We expect to close on Oct 8th. That's when I will have an idea how much total debt we racked up fixing the house up for sale (and have to pay before we split the money).

Anyway, this has put a huge crimp in my plans.

My priority must be to pay off some credit card debt (some of which has been mounting waiting for the sale of the house). Fortunately, child support stops as of today!!!

In reality I can't buy a classic car... yet. To do that I would need a reliable backup car (what we used to call a beater). I might buy my brother-in-law's daughter's car from him. She enrolled in the Air Force Academy and can't have a car. It is an 04 or 05 Honda Accord. He said I could buy it for $3,000. This would be my beater. Even if I do this I will likely have only $5,000 left over to buy a classic. I have a friend that says you can get into car collecting at any price. I believe that... but in reality... for me... I have not seen anything I would consider owning for under $6,000 in a very long time.

My most likely option at this point is to buy myself another car, giving my Ford Focus to my son. I hope when the dust settles I can afford to pay off enough CC debt and pay off my Focus. Then it is a matter of how much I can afford to spend on a car.

I believe I will only be able to budget about $300/month for a car payment. With the lower equity, I will likely have little down payment for this car. So that puts my budget at about $15,000. I think to myself... maybe I can use my "extra paychecks" to help with my car payment. I get paid every two weeks, which leaves 2 extra paychecks a year. If I take $1,200 from each of those paychecks, I could add $200/month for the car payment, which would increase my purchase price target to $25,000. That's all in Theory, and likely a very bad idea.

I also have to wonder... my photography as started turning a profit (I'll write about that at the end of the year). I updated my monthly budget spreadsheet to include 2 payments from photography jobs. This would be to help out my month to month expenses and increase my budgeted car payment. Again, not a good idea, but better than the one above. I would have to keep this to photography payments that have no direct expenses (no prints that I had to pay for out of pocket), or they would have to be minus any real dollar expenses (such as the cost of the prints).

Let's just say for one minute that I can spend up to $25K on a car. What would I look at? From my Cars Worth Waiting For articles I quickly grabbed these... and added a super short comment:

Cadillac CTS Coupe - YES!
Cadillac CTS VSport - Too new and too expensive.
Cadillac ATS - Too new and too expensive.
Chevrolet Corvette - Yes!
BMW 228i - Too new and too expensive.
Audi S3 - Too new and too expensive.
Chevrolet Camaro - I'd rather wait for the 2016.
Ford Mustang - Waiting to afford the 2015.
Mazda Miata - Waiting to afford the 2016.
2011+ Dodge Charger R/T - Interesting.. would rather wait for a 2015 Challenger.
Ford Focus ST - Interesting. A Two Foci household? It has to have Recaro seats!

Let's go back to our Cars for Photography series. That included the Honda Accord Coupe, Nissan Altima Coupe, BMW 328i Coupe and the 2012+ MB C250 Coupe (as well as the Corvette, which is mentioned above).

I almost want to include a couple of cars that were removed in the past, such as the Porsche Boxster and Cayman. I know someone daily driving a Cayman, and it increases my faith in these cars as viable daily transportation. An older 328i (2007-2012) from Car for Photography takes the place of the 228i. Also, while looking at the Mercedes C250 I noticed that the second gen SLK is surprisingly affordable.

On the other hand... I am still holding onto the idea of finding a low mileage 93-96 Camaro Z28... in red. If I did this I would be taking the money that would pay off my Focus, and buy the Camaro. I would use it as daily transportation until my debt consolidation loan is paid off (about 2 years).

And I mentioned in a previous column the idea of getting my favorite year for the Lexus ES 300 (1997-2001). This would be a nicer "beater" to the Accord from my brother-in-law, but would cost more and slow down any plans to buy a classic.

Here is my current "wish" list (in alphabetical order):

BMW 328i/335i Coupe (2007-2012) - with $15K or $25K
Cadillac CTS Coupe - with $25K
Chevrolet Camaro (1993-1996) - with $8-10K Cash
Chevrolet Corvette (2006-2010) - with $25K
Ford Focus ST (2012-2014) - with $25K
Honda Accord Coupe (2008-2013) - with $15K
Lexus ES300 (1997-2001) - with $8-10K Cash
Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe (2012-2014) - with $25K
Mercedes-Benz SLK (2007-2010) - with $25K
Nissan Altima Coupe (2008-2013) - with $15K
Porsche Boxster/Cayman (2006-2010) - with $25K

The 15K budget cars assume I pay off my Focus. The 25K budget assumes I pay off my focus and some how manage to stretch my budget. The cash cars assume I do NOT pay off my Focus.

Let's see what the month of October brings. I'll keep you posted.